clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Erik Karlsson's Speed Is Out of This World

New, comments

Karlsson's incredible speed was on display against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Yet another example of why there's no other defenseman in the world like him.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

It's one of the seven wonders of the hockey world. Erik Karlsson's explosiveness and sheer speed seems revolutionary, like nothing the NHL has ever seen before in a defenseman.

Sure, there have been defensemen in the past that look like they, too, have rockets attached to their skates - Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey are some names that come to mind - but in the modern era, has there ever been a player that can go from 0 to 60 as quick as the Senators' captain?

Though the average old-time hockey analyst continues to creep closer and closer into believing skill and intelligence is actually more valuable than size and physicality, the advantage of speed in a blue liner is still a tad under appreciated in this day and age. And that's astounding.

We see it night in and night out; Karlsson does something magical with his quickness almost every shift.

Of course, there are obvious offensive upsides to his speed - overall dominance in 3-on-3 overtime, the ability to hop in the rush and creating scoring chances by himself - but the defensive advantages are often overlooked.

How many times have we watched Karlsson notice a tiny opening while hemmed in the defensive zone, take off with the puck and break out past the blue line all by himself? How many times have we seen him get caught pinching, only to turn on the afterburners and come back to defend an odd-man rush like it's nothing?

Karlsson's works of defensive art usually turn into offense themselves, which is why audiences tend to focus on the goals and assists more than the takeaways and fantastic positioning.

His defensive repertoire is the one of the NHL's best kept secrets, and maybe it's not the worst thing for the Senators if that ability is kept confidential.

***

Since we're on the topic, let's breakdown the Swedish sensation's latest display of lightspeed.

On Thursday night, Erik Karlsson showed why he is one of the most exciting players in the world.

With five seconds left in the game, Karlsson picked up the puck at the hashmarks in the Senators' end, raced down the ice, passed over to Mike Hoffman once in the offensive zone, and Hoffman wired a shot off the post with 0.3 seconds left in the period.

It was an incredible play by Karlsson. In under five seconds he had went the length of the ice and created an unbelievable scoring chance that almost won Ottawa the game in regulation.

What's more impressive? He did it again, 30 seconds later.

This time, it was even better.

During the first shift of overtime, Karlsson cornered fellow Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and made him fumble the puck, resulting in the Senators' star defenseman poking the puck away and starting an odd-man rush.

At the point where Karlsson started to accelerate, Patrick Kane was 31 feet ahead of him, and though the Blackhawks forward still had to skate over to cut him off, Kane started with a bit of momentum, while Karlsson began at a stand-still.

Karlsson then takes off full speed as Kane closes in. At this point, it looks like Kane has the upper hand, but Karlsson pushes the puck ahead of him so he can skate as if he's racing through open ice.

Then comes the stretch where Karlsson is truly at top speed, between the blue lines. He blows by Kane, who is also skating at his highest tempo.

Karlsson skates blue line to blue line in 1.64 seconds. In other words, he's going 34 kilometres per hour while carrying the puck.

In under 50 feet, Karlsson goes from being two steps behind Kane to two steps in front of him. And with that extra bit of room, he's able to connect with a fellow speedster in Hoffman.

Hoffman ends the game in overtime, scoring 40 seconds after hitting the post on a similar play in regulation.

From his own hashmarks to the top of the circle in the Blackhawks' zone, Karlsson skates from an absolute dead stop over 144 feet in 5.43 seconds.

Through 25 games, the 25-year-old has 5 goals and 24 assists and leads the Eastern Conference in points. He is currently on pace for 94 points and no one will be surprised if in June at the NHL awards he wins his third Norris in five years.

There's simply no one else in the game like Karlsson. He's on a level of his own.